Monthly Archives: September 2012

Switching Gears

As usual, real life is interfering with our game and causing attendance woes. This is causing problems because it’s difficult to explore cursed ruins when half – three-quarters of your adventuring party suddenly disappear. While I’m OK with a little discontinuity, some things are difficult to handwave.

Now, the original plan was to just play an alternate game when we couldn’t play D&D. This isn’t working out so well because bouncing back and forth between system is causing rules confusion and making it difficult for my wife to actually learn D&D. So, I’ve adjusted my plan.
Each DoctorStrange Roll session will now play D&D. If the core group is all who show up (I’ve identified who is most reliable with their attendance) we will play a new campaign (which is, as yet, unnamed) I’m working on just for them. It’s a D&D 4E Eberron campaign. If the table is full (which rarely happens due to these aforementioned attendance issues) and/or we have all party members with non-redundant classes, we will continue the Official DoctorStrange Roll game. If current trends continue, this means we’ll be playing D&D 4E 2 out of every 3 sessions.

While it is not my favorite iteration of the D&D ruleset, D&D 4E is VERY easy for me to prep and run and based on a rather informal internet survey I conducted there is a general feeling that it is one of the easier versions of D&D for a new player to learn.

So, shortly, a new tab will be appearing at the top of the site linking to my D&D 4E Eberron game. Game session updates will still appear in the blog feed, but campaign background information will be on that page.

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Doctor Who – Adventures in Time and Space

A few weeks ago, when attendance was not up to par for neither the Doctor StrangeRoll D&D game nor our Star Wars game, we played a session of Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. This time, I was a player, not the GM, so it was a good break for me. The game took place in the modern Who era. I didn’t catch if we were on Doctor 10 or 11, but since The Doctor was Sir Not Appearing In This Game, it didn’t matter. We rolled up characters before starting play (it only took 20-30 minutes or so for the entire group).

My character was Dr. Cornelius Constance, a scientician from 19th century Kansas who became a time traveler after a run-in with a 51st century Time Agent. He was quite a bit like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Some how, he became a companion to Jenny, The Doctor’s Daughter (my wife’s character). We were joined by Delyn Godslayer and Mark or Sandra. Mark or Sandra had a bit of a split personality thing going on. Jenny possessed a time ship, which was our mode of transportation. Dr. Cornelius would have loved to have acquired a TARDIS, but no such luck. He did have a sonic screwdriver, though, as well as a squareness gun.

While tooling around helping people, we came across an old space station, one which had not been heard from for 50 years (I don’t remember if we were on a mission to find it or if we stumbled across it. The former, I think.). The power seemed to still be on, though there were no automated docking systems. We docked anyway and Dr. Cornelius exited the ship (wearing a space suit, mind you) and helped with the manual docking procedures. Because Dr. Cornelius is awesome, he also started an automated refueling cycle once the ship was docked.

The rest of the crew disembarked from Jenny’s time ship and we began to explore the space station. There was evidence of fighting and we kept getting conflicting readings on the number and location of life forms within the station. When we finally reached the central computer room, we came face-to-face with a Dalek. Delyn leapt upon in, intending to do hand-to-hand combat with it (he’s a little insane in Dr. Cornelius’s opinion). Fortunately, it was mere the shell of a long-dead Dalek. We then noticed a charred corpse on the ground behind the Dalek as well as the live wire that apparently caused both of their demise.

Dr. Cornelius looked around for the controls to the computer and immediately pressed the first button he found, because pressing buttong MAKES THINGS HAPPEN. What happened was that he got a shock from pushing the button. Now we knew what that button did. Science! Learning!

We continued exploring the station, still receiving intermittent signs of life. Our group of intrepid explorers found the station’s medical lab where we discovered that many of the station’s inhabitants had a type of transponder implanted into their heads. Naturally, Delyn decided that having one implanted into his head was the way to go. Mark/Sandra assisted with the operation. While there were side-effects, the operation was deemed a success and Delyn could now do more useful things like open the stations doors without Dr. Cornelius jimmying the mechanism with a sonic screwdriver.

Sadly, the notes get a little sparse from this point on, so the remaining summary is very brief compared to how the game went and I slacked off enough writing this update that I’ve forgotten a lot of the details.

We discovered that the station had only one actual survivor and shortly after finding him, the Daleks returned. Fortunately, we also found the armory and everyone armed themselves with laser rifles (except Dr. Cornelius). While most everyone fended off the Daleks, Dr. Cornelius went to the station’s power core to do something (I’m sure someone will speak up in the comments to clarify) important for our escape and we did manage to convince the not-quite-sane sole survivor that coming with us was the best option for his continued survival and we would definitely NOT give him over to the Daleks.

The game was fun. The system was easy to pick up and learn and was very fast-paced. I’d almost say it’s a rules-light system, which I’ve mentioned several times is very appealing to me. The Whoniverse is diverse enough that if you think of the bigger picture a bit, you can easily find ways of playing in that universe without involving the Doctor at all, as this game session showed.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: | 2 Comments

Eigth Session Report – Pharaoh

We returned to the Desert of Desolation and I3: Pharaoh to find our intrepid band of heroes continuing to explore the temple outside the Tomb of Amun-Re. As they stood staring at the exit that led directly to the tomb, they noticed Kilos Battlebrand and Finias Jinx had gone missing. They decided the two most likely wandered off and resumed exploring the temple. (Their players were absent.) After exploring some cubicles that appeared to be sleeping quarters for the dervish with whom they’d already dealt, our heroes came across another priest in the throes of worship. He was prepared for the noisy, “infidel defilers” and cursed Nallon before falling to their blades. Fortunately, Bunny was prepared for such an eventuality and was able to remove the curse before it actually caused harm.

They looted the priest’s body and continued their explorations, finishing back where they started. Once they were sure no secret door was left undiscovered, they moved outside and walked the steps up the pyramid to the Tomb of Amun-Re. Two more dervishes were standing guard at the tomb’s entrance and demanded to know why the PCs were there. They did not accept the excuse that they were just sight-seeing and attacked. Our heroes made short work of the dervishes and stepped into the tomb. Inside, they found a series of secret doors hidden behind statues of Amun-Re that lead to rooms with more secret doors and so forth until they found what appeared to be the actual crypt itself. The sarcophagus they found within was already opened and the lid broken. They found writing on the wall, which, when translated, read:

Here lies the true tomb of Amun-Re
Know that ye have arrived too late
to plunder my ransom for Heaven’s Gate

After a small amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, they realized that since the tomb had to be despoiled in order to break Amun-Re’s curse and the land was still under the curse, this was obviously not the correct tomb. They explored a bit more, finding two rooms which were essentially great shafts leading to some sort of underground water source. They wisely decided not to descend into the shafts and continued exploring, heading into two small corridors near the entrance they initially dismissed because of their small size (the corridors were barely wide enough for them to explore single-file). After the first corridor turned out to be a dead end, Bunny threw caution to the wind, threw her arms up and ran screaming towards the other side. To her surprise, the room was filled with dervishes, praying before a very tall statue of Amun-Re holding a large, lit brazier. Naturally, they heard her coming and all turned to stare at her when she arrived.

Since no one appeared aggressive, a conversation began and the PCs learned that the dervishes were waiting for their leader to return. He followed instructions in a book to this room and had not been heard from since. Wikki investigated the statue holding the burning brazier and found the fire gave off no smoke and emitted no heat. On a hunch, he walked into the flames. They flared up and he was gone. This had the effect of spooking the dervishes and they backed away. Bunny followed, screaming in agony as she disappeared, causing the dervishes to flee. Annastasia and Nallon followed Bunny and Wikki into the fire.*

*I might be misremembering the order, but you get the point.

Once everyone walked into the fire, part of my brain said “Cackle evilly and tell them they’re all DEAD.” I purposely did not reveal what happened after the first PC walked into the fire, so I could’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for my meddling conscience! Plus, it would’ve been a serious Dick-DM move to do that just because Gen Con made me want to run about a dozen non-D&D games (as it always does). At some point, I should finish up the Star Wars game so I can switch to something else for our off-night RPG.

We discussed and formalized the plan to NOT repeat adventures with each edition. Instead, if I started a series (such as this one, or the Saltmarsh series), I would run the next adventure in the series once we switched editions. U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh was aborted due to the PCs burning down the adventure locale, taking all the clues to lead them to the second part of that adventure with it, so I will repeat that one for AD&D, but other wise, I4: Oasis of the White Palm won’t get play time until we reach AD&D and U2: The Danger at Dunwater won’t be played until we hit Pathfinder. This will help minimize metagaming since some players will remember what they’re supposed to do (particularly in situations like we found in this session where the correct solution was to walk into the flames). It will also help stave off boredom.

The next DoctorStrangeroll game will take place on Friday, September 14th. I will likely continue I3: Pharaoh. As I indicated in an earlier post, the game closest to Halloween (Oct. 26 most likely) will be Call of Cthulhu. There will be much insanity.

Categories: Phase One - Basic D&D | Tags: | Leave a comment

Musings of High-Level Options

I’ve been thinking a lot about what adventure to run as the “High Level” adventure for the campaign. High level, as a tier, has fluctuated from edition to edition. In Basic D&D, characters could go as high as level 36 (and beyond if you take Immortals into account). AD&D had no theoretical upper limit, but game play didn’t seem to change much once you go into the teens. 3.X/Pathfinder, of course, got into high level play in the mid-teens and Epic level play was always spotty (and not officially supported in Pathfinder). 4E separates things out explicitly, making the divisions between low (Heroic), mid (Paragon), and high (Epic) obvious.

Couple that with my new approach which has me running only certain parts of a series per edition (i.e. U1: Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh started for Basic Low Level and got switched to X1: Isle of Dread due to PC derailment, U1 will be repeated for AD&D low level, U2 will come in Pathfinder low level, and U3 for 4E low level; I3: Pharaoh is Basic D&D mid-level, I4 AD&D mid-level, and so forth).

Of course, there will be some repetition since most series are 3 adventures and I have 4 editions to run (so far), or I might throw a 4th or 5th adventure into the mix.

High level is the real problem. There just aren’t that many adventures that I own for high-level play. Most cap out right at the low teens. The C & M series adventure written for basic D&D for characters in their 20s and 30s are reasonably inexpensive, but there isn’t really a series, per se. Plus, the domain-running/building aspects of high-level Basic D&D play are something I don’t think a majority of my players would enjoy (based on the amount of bitching I heard regarding the wilderness exploration portion of X1, i.e. the parts where they weren’t killing things and taking their stuff or even interacting with NPCs).a

The only way I could run the same adventure 4 times with little-to-no repetition would be to run S1: The Tomb of Horrors as the high-level adventure. In Basic D&D and AD&D, they would probably die very quickly. I could run it until there is a TPK, then make the switch to a new edition. By the time Pathfinder rolls around, most of the insta-kill traps aren’t insta-kill anymore due to the way the system works, but they still might die somewhere before the end. If they, at any point, solve the puzzles and make it to the end, I would have to run a different high-level adventure. Perhaps Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits?

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